Category Archives: Simplify

How many t-shirts should one man own? Really. Please tell me what’s reasonable.

My husband has seventy-two t-shirts. 72! (Yes, I counted). Granted, these include both long sleeve and short sleeve, as well as white undershirts. But still! He could wear a different t-shirt each day of the week for two-and-a-half months without having to do laundry. Ree-DIC-u-lous. Absolutely ridiculous. (Incidentally, when I point this kind of thing out to him, he always mentions how it’s kind of brilliant, given our tendency to fall behind with the laundry. What a wiseass.)

Now, I will be the first to admit that I love a good t-shirt. The super, super soft shirts. The ones you’ve had forever that are worn down just perfectly. The oversized ones that are great for sleeping in. The classic summer white tee. The tees that represent beloved sports teams or favorite vacation spots. I could go on, but I won’t. Because no one should own as many shirts as my hubs. As our four-year-old would say with a bunch of sass—seriously.

Here’s the thing. If we had a big house with a walk-in closet, or room in the bedroom for more than one DPP (dresser per person), I’d be OK with the outrageous number of shirts. But, as it is, we do not live in a mansion. We have a small house with two small closets and two small dressers which overflow way too easily.

Now, with the exception of the cloth diapers—Liam helps to wash these all the time, God love him—I do the laundry in the house. And, I fold and put away clothing too. Why is this significant?

Because when you try to stuff seventy-two clean t-shirts in drawers that are only meant to hold half that number, and you’re impatient like I am, you start to easily lose your shit when putting away the clean clothes. And then, you wind up doing wildly immature and nonsensical things when you, in fact, do lose your shit. Like throwing a stack of neatly folded tees into the deepest and darkest back corner of your husband’s closet, after you’ve asked him nicely, forty-six times, to please, for the love of all that’s holy, pare down the collection because it’s driving me INSANE. 

Every now and then he will start to look through the shirts in an attempt to get rid of a few, but he never does. The man doesn’t hang on to much, but he does love him some shirts.

Why does he feel the need to hang on to every running race shirt he’s ever received? I don’t know. Or all the sports ones, many of the same teams. Or the ones from all the pubs and taverns in every town he’s every lived and likely visited. If he’s so attached to the words on the shirts, surely some of the plain color tees could go out to the curb? Or bring us a buck or two in the upcoming yard sale? I mean, come on!

I’ll give him credit. A time or two he has removed some shirts and relocated them to a bin in the basement. His plan was to keep them on some kind of rotation. That never happened. 

I probably should just start sneaking some into the trash now and then when he isn’t looking. See if he misses them. I’ll only take from the way bottom of the drawer. Grab the ones that haven’t seen the light of day in a year or two. Because even in our darkest laundry moments, when I’ve neglected the growing mounds for well over a week—maybe two—the man still had two drawers nearly full of shirts. 

I mean, is this normal? Is this just a guy thing? If so, somebody please let me know, and I’ll try to be more tolerant. Or, find alternative spaces in our home in which to store the damn things. Or, alternative uses.

Off the top of my head, I’m thinking replacements for hand towels in the bathroom. Pillowcases maybe. Dish rags. Blankets for the girls’ baby dolls.

Guests in the home mention we are nearly out of toilet paper? Here, use this shirt. It’s OK. He’s got a duplicate. Yes, I know. Isn’t that silly, hanging on to two of the same shirt? Please, use it. Your ass will just love it. 

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A season of fasting…with some exceptions.

Lent begins today. I’ve given some thought to sacrifices I can make over the next forty days that will hopefully help me to be more mindful, healthful, and devoted, both to prayer and to my family.

While I will continue to try and write on this blog daily, I’m going to give up other forms of electronic media. My cell phone and I are breaking up for a spell, taking some time apart to “see other people.”

I will likely continue to use it to text, call, check weather, etc. But, I will refrain from using Facebook, Instagram (a new, rarely used app), reading news (both celebrity gossip sites as well as more respectable outlets), and listening to podcasts. Not sure if I can give up Amazon Prime. We are bound to need things that just can’t be bought in the store with as much ease and convenience.

Hopefully, this electronic abandonment will allow for more book and magazine reading, perhaps some letter writing, and in general, less distraction from and more attention to the kids, husband, gratefulness and grace.

In addition, I’ve gotten the husband to agree to give up sugar along with me. This will help us to be more healthy and conscious of the foods we put into our bodies. Also, I know for me, that once I get past the craving stage, my stress, anxiety and tiredness will lessen. And, if the baby should happen to not gain an extra pound or two these next seven weeks, then we will all be better for it (and by “we” I of course mean me and my lady bits).

It should be noted, however, that we ARE making some exceptions. Since Lent coincides with Birthday Season (Liam, the girls, and I all have March and April birthdays), and potentially the birth of our newest family member, we will be breaking the rules from time to time.

I know, I know…not a true sacrifice then, right? At this point though, I’ll take the best we can do. And if that means eating cake or ice cream or cookies or cupcakes (or a combination of up to and including all four), on the days during which all of us celebrate our birthdays, well, then I’m OK with that.

And, you’d better believe that I’ll be taking full advantage of my “free” meals at the hospital when the baby comes, and ordering some chocolate peanut butter pie. That pie alone may be reason enough to consider having a fourth child. Hmmmm…considering done. No deal.

Coloring Page Clutter

We have a prolific artist living in our house. She loves to paint, draw, write and color. Our fridge showcases many of her best pieces, and every now and then, so do our walls. More often, though, the papers end up on various tables, desks and floors. Not only are the pages unsightly, they are hazardous as well (imagine for a moment a seven-months-pregnant lady who can’t see beyond her growing belly, walking in socks on the kitchen floor, and then slipping on an unseen giant “Winnie the Pooh” coloring page, and the ensuing rage that will surely follow).

I don’t know why clutter has the power to undo me, but it does. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a house full of clutter—picture newspapers and magazines, unopened mail piled up in every corner—the result of living in a home that was far too small for the six people that inhabited it, combined with full-time working parents who had little time to clean and organize while also raising four children, combined with what may be the slight hoarding tendencies of my very well-meaning mother.

I, however, can spend loads of time organizing and de-cluttering our small house. I have a very low threshold for messiness. Which isn’t to say that our house is always clean and put-together. Our living room, kitchen and dining areas, our most heavily used spaces, are prone to collecting post-tornado-like debris on a daily basis. My husband, who has a much higher tolerance for clutter, often argues, “Why do you even bother cleaning up? They’re [the kids] just going to destroy it all again anyway.”

I see his point. I do. In fact, I sometimes find myself muttering the same thing under huffy breath. Still, I find there is something so satisfying, so necessary, about ridding spaces of clutter. It seems logical, then, that I might want to start with the countless coloring pages that pile up and grace the flat spaces in our house.

I suppose I could neatly stack the papers and file them away in some sort of album, or shoebox. This is something my mother would have done. Alas, she and I have a different relationship with clutter, so into the garbage they will go.

I try to find moments when our little artist is either not in the house, or absorbed entirely in something else, to stealthily trash the pages and create order once again in our home. Two or three times I made the mistake of throwing pages into some of the open waste baskets in our home. The artist, Nora, would then pass by and discover the fruits of her hard work in the dump and yell, “Hey! What’s my picture doing in the trash?!”

I blamed it on her younger sister a couple of times, which wasn’t totally inconceivable, because Frances went through a phase of trashing things that definitely didn’t warrant trashing. There was a span of a few weeks when I had to carefully examine the contents of the wastebaskets before I dumped them into the larger trash because I had discovered, quite by accident, a baby doll in one bin. Thanks to my checking, a pair of socks, a book, and several play dishes were saved from certain death-by-trashing.

“Oh, Franny must have done it,” I said. “Remember when she tried to throw away Baby?” And then, admonishing the younger, clueless sister, “Silly, Franny. We don’t put coloring pages in the trash.” Poor sucker. I know, I’m totally heinous. I then had to pull the artwork from the trash and hang it prominently on the fridge until a satisfied smile appeared on the artist’s face.

Since then I’ve learned to use the trashcan in the kitchen to dispose of old pages. It has a lid which hides its contents well from unsuspecting passersby. But then this past week I made another mistake. I just wasn’t thinking. Minutes, and I mean minutes (I usually wait at least an overnight), after Nora finished a lovely butterfly coloring page, I discovered it had fallen from the magnet which was attempting to secure it to the fridge. Frustrated after finding another effing paper on the floor, I took advantage of Nora’s bathroom break and moved the paper to the trash.

Then, I started cooking dinner. I set my youngest up at the sink to play in some dishwater so she would stop demanding incessantly that I hold her. Nora asked to eat a clementine once she returned from the bathroom and I told her fine. As long it means you leave me alone to finish dinner! 

She walked over to the trashcan and used her foot to press the pedal to open the stainless steel butterfly lid (a month ago she didn’t have the strength or coordination to pull this off!). She began peeling the clementine and must have discovered her drawing as she looked down after dropping one of the peels inside. “Hey!” she shouted, sounding appalled. Oh shit. Caught red-handed. “What’s my butterfly doing in here? Who threw my butterfly in the trash?!”

I couldn’t really blame the toddler then. She had been splashing in the sink with spoons and bubbles. And even if she hadn’t been, she lacked the strength necessary to open this trashcan. I quickly came up with some lame-sounding excuses, so my daughter wouldn’t think her mother was the most offensive, uncaring, soulless human being on the planet.

“Oh honey. Mommy must have done that by accident. Maybe mommy didn’t see the butterfly, but instead the other side of the paper. Maybe mommy thought it was a paper she didn’t need anymore, like a grocery list. Here, let’s get it out of the trash and straighten it up and put it back on the fridge. There we go. How’s that?”

Sheesh. She seemed to fall for my sorry ass excuses, appeased for the moment. What will I do when she wises up a bit more and starts to notice that all of her drawings are slowly disappearing day after day after day?

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There aren’t enough magnets to support the number of pages that get churned out at our house each day.

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Sample table clutter after a lengthy session with crayons and markers. The neatly colored lion was done by yours truly. I do love a good color every now and then.

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Sample under-the-table clutter featuring the GIANT coloring pages I mentioned above.

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Today’s dump. The artist was at her grandparents’ house so I had plenty of time to dispose of the evidence.

For all my bitching and complaining about these damn papers, I do appreciate very much that the girls are engaged in making art. It keeps them busy for long stretches so that I am able to get things done around the house. And, I do keep the best ones for posterity, though they are very small in number.

Nora colored the Piglet below a couple of days ago. I told her that I liked how the colors were so lifelike, that the watermelon looked just like a real watermelon. And Piglet looked just like the Piglet in the books. I suggested she hang it on the back of the front door since it was too large to fit on the fridge. I rolled some tape doughnuts for her and then walked away. A little while later, I stumbled upon this scene in the bedroom.

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Piglet watching over me as I sleep, in all his true-to-life colors.

I found Nora and told her I thought she was going to hang it on the door. Her response: “Since you liked it so much, mommy, I decided to put it next to your bed so you can see it all the time.” Oh joy.

Whenever the youngest walks into the room now, she looks at the wall, squeals, “Nor-Nor! (her name for her sister), and starts cracking up laughing. If I’m being honest, I guess I’ll admit I do too.